Settling in at the Sun-Times

Well, my first week at the Chicago Sun-Times was a blur of interviews, deadlines and public transportation. It's been sort of hard to blog about it, seeing as I don't have Internet access in my apartment, so just know that I will update as often as I can :)

I walked into the office for my first day of work, was introduced to the metro editor, handed an assignment and sent out for my first story within the first 10 minutes. The article was about Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) plans to up security and install new cameras. I made it to the station where they made the announcement with plenty of time to spare, and before I knew it, I had my first Sun-Times byline. You can read the article here.

My second story came about when a woman's car was stolen while her 1-year-old son slept in the back seat. I really enjoyed doing this story because I had to call around to police stations and hospitals to get information, and I had to get it done as fast and accurately as possible. It's something I don't do a lot at The News Record, and the fast-paced, intense rush of the newsiness was really invigorating. You can read that article here.

On Friday, I got to go to the Taste of Chicago, an annual food festival, to see what attendees thought of the changes made to the festival this year (more security, local music acts, etc.). I felt a lot more in my element with this story, because it's very similar to some college living articles at TNR. I also had a great time previewing the Taste, which is one seriously cool event. You can read the article here.

Now, I'm off to start my second week. So far, I love everything about this job. It's great to walk into the office with no idea what'll happen, then spend the day chasing leads and writing articles. This internship is already more than I could have asked for, and I can't believe I get to do this stuff all summer!

Student fees face dramatic increase

Ariel Cheung | The News Record
June 13, 2011

Fee increases are expected to strike several colleges at the University of Cincinnati for the 2011-12 academic year, meaning some students could pay as much as $346 per quarter in general college fees alone.

"We didn't want to push budget cuts on the students, but at the same time, we wanted to make sure we had the revenues we need to provide quality education," said Gigi Escoe, vice provost of undergraduate affairs.

Before implementing any new fees, the provost's office set criteria for the colleges, said Greg Hand, university spokesperson.

The colleges were required to determine why the fee was necessary, compare it to fees at other universities and meet with student representatives to discuss the plan.

"In most cases, when people [present] the data, the students usually get it," Escoe said. "There have been many cases

with endorsement."

Some students, however, said they don't understand why the fees are being increased.

"I was not given a postcard, I was not given an email, I was not given a phone call. The communication lacked in explaining why it was necessary," said Dan Sicker, a fourth-year industrial management student. "Last time I checked, we were the most expensive state school [in Ohio], so I don't see why [the increase] needs to happen."

No colleges are adding completelty new fees, although the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences was considering implementing a new general college fee before deciding against it. The College of Engineering and Applied Science will implement the largest quarterly fee at UC, increasing it from $200 to $346.

In Spring quarter 2010, the College-Conservatory of Music introduced a $150 quarterly fee; that will increase to $235 this fall.

The College of Business will increase their quarterly fee from the current $100 to $300 this fall. The College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning will raise their fees by $100; the $100 fee will be increased to $200. Graduate students will also see a rise in application fees from the current $45 to $60; international students will pay $70.

Additionally, the co-op program, which places students in various employment opportunities while in college, plans to increase fees by $50 from the current $260 for undergraduates and $400 for graduates.

Originally, there was a proposed $100 increase for co-op fees, Escoe said. That number was halved after a meeting with Student Government. There are also plans in the works to add a co-op tribunal to Student Government next year.

As a 3.5 percent increase in tuition has also been proposed, the provost's office wanted to ensure that fee increases were kept to a minimum, Escoe said.

"No one wanted to push their tough financial times on the students," Escoe said. "We took the responses [from students] seriously and we tried to really minimize the financial burden."

And so it begins ...

My first day as official editor-in-chief has come to an end, and already, I'm exhausted. Thankfully, I loved every moment of it -- from the budget meeting to scrambling to get the last pages sent to the printer.

More than anything, I'm excited about how TOTALLY WICKED AWESOME my staff is this year. We've got a lot of oldies (and goodies), but Jason Hoffman, Gabrielle Walter and Scott Winfield kicked some serious booty today for their first day on the job. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do with the Opinion, Nation & World, College Living, Spotlight and News pages next year.

Overall, my crew ("What's up, crew?") is excellent. I really couldn't ask for a better staff. I can't wait to see what they come up with.

I guess the biggest difference I've noticed so far between editor-in-chief and managing editor (my former position) is how I really end up doing a little bit of absolutely everything. Sure, I dabbled in most things as managing editor, but as editor-in-chief, I oversee every part of the newspaper. It's exciting, but man, it means there is absolutely no down time.

Thankfully, I'd say I'm pretty well prepared. I've worked for three different editors-in-chief, which means I've had the chance to see how each editor handles the job. I have a lot of awesome ideas for the upcoming year, and I can't wait to see what happens.

Column: Making sense of 2010-11

Ariel Cheung | The News Record
June 13, 2011

From President Gregory Williams being formally instated and introducing UC 2019 to T-Pain's painful spring concert, it's been a hell of a year at the University of Cincinnati.

First off, let's give one finally hats off to the volleyball team, which boasted a 39 home-game winning streak and Big East regular season title. Overall, the fall sports teams had a great show: men's soccer made it to the semi-finals of the Big East tournament, as well.

Sports wasn't the only area UC excelled in this year; the National Opera Association honored the College-Conservatory of Music with seven awards, including top honors for "Of Mice and Men."

Our university also received recognized from both the Princeton Review and the United States Green Building Council as on of the top green universities in the nation.

While we're mentioning awards and recognition, The News Record didn't do too shabbily when it came to the annual college newspaper award season. The Ohio Newspaper Association recognized our sports, arts & entertainment and editorial coverage and headline writing, while the Society of Professional Journalism gave a nod to our sports photography, feature writing and website. Oh, and they named us the third-best non-daily newspaper in the region.

Bragging rights aside, TNR covered a lot of news this year. Ohio received national attention as Sen. Shannon Jones introduced Senate Bill 5 in February, which could change the collective bargaining law and cut pay to many public employees.

The bill sparked protests across the state, and members of the UC community stood proud along with nearly 4,000 other protestors Feb. 22 at the Ohio Statehouse. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill in April, but petitions to get it repealed are in the works.

Then again, that wasn't the only protest that garnered national headlines that involved UC students. In December 2010, Aaron Tobey, a fifth-year architecture student, was cited for disorderly conduct when he removed his shirt and revealed the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution before a security checkpoint at the Richmond International Airport.

But if there's one thing Ohio was recognized for in 2010-11, it was for going a little loco — Four Loko, that is. The alcoholic energy drink, created by two former Ohio State University students and dubbed "blackout in a can," caused several states, including Ohio, to end distribution of alcoholic energy drinks.

Closer to home, the Best of UC awards were bigger and better than ever, with more than 22,000 votes. From 5 Guys Burgers and Fries received their second-straight Best Burger award to Woody's being named the place to go for Thirsty Thursdays, we loved every moment of the Best of UC awards, and we can't wait to do it again next year.

We welcomed the largest freshman class in UC history (again), and, June 10 and 11, said goodbye to 4,842 graduates.

We also said hello to new College of Medicine Dean Thomas Boat, Raymond Walters College dean Cady Short-Thompson and 20-year UC veteran Karen Faaborg took the reigns as the new executive vice president. Oh, and we can't forget our favorite newcomer to the Cincinnati scene: Toppers Pizza.

We had a couple other goodbyes as well: former executive vice president Fred Reynolds headed back to the City College of New York, while Neville Pinto, former vice provost of graduate affairs left UC in April.

We also want to take a final moment to remember those we've lost this year, including Andrew Lynch, Dylan Morrison, Tania Lark, Andrew Howell and Melissa Kramer.

Overall, it was a pretty amazing year at UC. We laughed, we cried; we screamed and we cheered. So enjoy your summer, Cincinnati, because come fall, it will be time to do it all over again.

Welp. That was fast.

I posted in April, after finding out I'd be interning at the Chicago Sun-Times for the summer, that I had no idea how I was going to make it through two more months of school when I just wanted to pack my bags and hit the road to the Windy City.

Today is the last day of class at UC. Next week will be a blur of exams, final projects, catering at various commencement events, my last day at STAF and TNR's freshman orientation issue, and then it's sayonara Cincinnati, a few days home and then bonjour, hola and gutentag to Chicago.

A few weekends ago, I Megabused to Chicago in search of the perfect apartment and a crash course orientation to the city (provided by high school ace gangers Kara and Brian). I had a laundry list of Craigslist candidates and a prayer I would not end up in a crack house or the victim of overpriced real estate.

Little did I imagine that the perfect opportunity was on the Megabus with me. Enter Ali Place, former TNR designer and current graphic designer at the Cincinnati Public Library. Ali was around during my freshman year, so it was really cool to see her on the bus. After we chatted for a bit, we parted ways ... until I received a text from her that night telling me about her friend Samantha who just so happened to be looking for someone to sublet her apartment.

A peek into my adorable sublet for the summer.
After a discouraging day of Craigslist rejects, I crawled to Samantha's apartment, my hopes desperately clinging to this serendipitous meeting. Samantha just so happened to be a former TNR editor, as well, and very, very cool. Her Lincoln Park apartment is gorgeous, perfect and everything I dreamed of when it came to my summer Chicago home. We're all set now, and I can't thank her and Ali enough for helping me find the perfect apartment.

I've also restocked my wardrobe, thanks to some $$ from a writing award from the UC English department and a couple excellent hours of shopping with my mom, who should really have a degree in shopping awesomeness (to accompany her shiny new masters degree -- go Mom!). After souring the racks of Talbot's, Kohl's, Gap, Target, Dillards and more, my closet is packed with the perfect frocks to look fabulous in while I take Chicago by storm. (This also means that I'll probably be detailing my internship outfits -- like I tried to do last year).

My apartment is ready, my paperwork has been filled out and I am counting down the days until I arrive in Chicago to begin the summer of a lifetime. I can't wait.


May and June are always a time of endings and beginnings in the academic world. This month, I watched my sister graduate from high school, had my last News Record issue for the 2010-11 production year and, next week, will finish my junior year of college. This is the month for department awards, farewell columns and graduation cakes.

Simultaneously, I am heralding the beginning of summer and my internship at the Sun-Times and prepping myself (and my staff) for the upcoming production year, where I'll be taking the reigns as editor-in-chief. It marks the start of my final chapter at the University of Cincinnati -- my senior year. It also will be my sister's first year, as she'll be my favorite new Bearkitten come Fall quarter.

As the co-valedictorian of my high school class said on the eve of my graduation, commencement means so much more than an ending. It's also the dawn of something great.

The man of the hour Gin A. Ando
Before I get carried away though, I really want to reflect on what an amazing year this has been. I finally feel at home here at UC, and I owe that to a few very special people: my gigglenut roommate Carolyn, the dashing and dependable Danny, and, of course, The News Record crew. Senior reporter Nick Grever commented the other day that, in the light of adversity, this became the closest staff he's ever been a part of. I can honestly say that my TNR pals are my BFFs, and I have no idea what I'd do without them.

Grever getting goofy
At the helm of the rowdy crew is Bossman Gin A. Ando. He pulled us through a year that even he (and definitely I) wasn't sure we'd make it through. His careful leadership and easy camaraderie kept us together and made us such an absolutely fantastic paper this year -- one that I am proud as pudding to be a part of. I am honored to be stepping into his fashionable, perfectly polished shoes (and can only wish I could rock skinny ties like he does), and I hope I can produce a product as decent as the one he tirelessly put forth for the UC community.

Also saying goodbye are Nick Grever, former sports editor Garrett Sabelhaus and design editor Jamie Ritzer. Grever has been part of TNR so long that I doubt any staff member in recent history can remember a time without him. His dedication to quality journalism and refreshing writing really stood out to me this year, as did his willingness to help out any staff member who needed a hand (or a ride home from the office at 1:30 a.m.). This guy is going places, so expect to see his byline at a stand near you.
Sports editor extraordinaire Garrett Sabelhaus

Garrett rocked the sports desk alongside Peter Marx, Bo Jessee and Sam Elliott. His spirited columns always promised hilarity, his love for sports was evident in every article and he, along with the other sports editors, proved to me that a sports page can be (and, in their case, often was) the one with the strongest writing, most talented writers and cleanest 55s. Garrett is a standout editor and writer, and I can't wait to see what he does next.

The Queen of Design Jamie Ritzer
That leaves Jamie -- my all-time favorite designer and one of the coolest chicks to every grace the TNR staff box. Her pure, unbridled passion for everything from design to learning to friendship is truly inspiring, and I know that, without her, the newsroom would have been way, way less awesome. This year, she redesigned the paper, laid out some seriously gorgeous pages and taught Gin and I more than we ever thought there was to know about InDesign. She also stuck up for what she believed in and battled one seriously scary foe. Seriously, Jamie, you're a rock star.

It is beyond sad to be saying goodbye to these four fabulous, fantastic and, dare I say, foxy individuals. They are the epitome of what a newsroom should be -- fierce and filled with the mad and all-consuming desire to create, inform and inspire.

And while I am very, very that their journey at The News Record is ending, I am thrilled that we get to share them with the rest of the world, where they are about to begin some seriously awesome journeys and excellent adventures.

Into the light

Ariel Cheung | The News Record
June 2, 2011

(Read part 1 of the spotlight, "Out of the darkness" by James Sprague, here.)

Members of the University of Cincinnati Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter raised nearly $6,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. All but 10 of the 80 members participated in the 7th annual Out of the Darkness walk in October 2010. They did it all "for John."

During Homecoming Week 2009, John Carney, a second-year construction management student, died, leaving members of the fraternity bereft. Carney struggled with feelings of isolation and self-consciousness, says Jay Lame, current president of SAE and third-year finance student.

"One of the things that John felt like was that he was always alone, and no one ever understood what was going through his mind," Lame says.

Since then, the fraternity has united in Carney's memory, including visits to Carney's grave, celebrating his 22nd birthday and naming his honorary sweetheart — a close friend of Carney's and the fraternity.

There's one change, however, that stands out from the rest.

"We're definitely a lot more alert and motivated to help a brother when they're struggling with something," Lame says. "If they have a problem, no matter what magnitude, you take the time now when that could be your only time to help that person."

Lame urges anyone with friends dealing with distress or potential thoughts of suicide to intervene.

"Don't be afraid to take the step [to help]," Lame says. "Because it can make all the difference in the world."

And finding a way to help students in need is something that the UC community has striven to do.


Four years ago, the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history took place at Virginia Tech April 16, 2007, as Seung-Hui Cho showered bullets from two semi-automatic handguns upon a residence hall and five classrooms. Cho killed 32 people and wounded 17 others before turning the gun on himself.

Months later, members of the University of Cincinnati community joined together to find a way to prevent a tragedy of such magnitude from ever striking the university. The committee realized while there were many resources available, what was needed was a common network for these programs, says Gene Ferrara, director of public safety and chief of the UC Police Division.

Research from the Secret Service and the Department of Education found that violent incidents at schools were mainly caused when a relationship between an individual and the institution went sour.

"In the mind of that person, it was either someone in the institution or the policies of the institution that caused it to go bad," Ferrara says. "They would try to resolve the issues, and failing to do that would culminate in acts of violence."

The committee decided that, as there's no profile to determine who will act violently, it would be better to widen the focus to anyone dealing with emotional or psychological distress.

"Somewhere in that group might be that person who might commit acts of violence," Ferrara says. "We looked at that and said ‘OK, if that's the case … if we could intervene earlier in the process, we might prevent the violence at the other end.'"

The result was Prevention Through Intervention, a collaboration between several UC departments to provide help to individuals in a crisis situation.

"While it was originally thought of as a response to a violent shooting, [it became a way to help] people who reach the end of their string; they've just had it, and sometimes the violence is directed inward," Ferrara says. "So it could be for suicides as well as homicides."

Since its inception in 2007, PTI has dealt with countless students and perhaps saved lives. The goal of the program is to prevent students from desperate acts of violence — whether inflicted upon others or themselves — by implementing a three-tier system that ranges from resident advisers to Ferrara himself.

"It starts with the front line," Ferrara says. "We wanted the first tier to be the people closest to the individual; it could be a faculty member, it could be a fellow student, it could be a supervisor — anyone who recognizes that ‘whoa, there's a change in behavior.'"

Once someone notices the change, they can talk to a number of people within the PTI network — whomever they're most comfortable with, Ferrara says. Faculty members, the Counseling and Women's centers staff, resident advisers, Judicial Affairs members or UCPD officers are all prepared to handle such an issue. If the individual wants to talk to the person of concern, the Counseling Center can coach them on how to handle the conversation.

The second and third levels of intervention involve PTI committees — for concerned students, for concerned employees and, at the highest level, the threat assessment team.

"In the couple of years we've been in existence, we've run the whole gambit," Ferrara says. Some individuals of concern merely need to have a conversation with someone, while others end up being evaluated psychologically. The reason for the program, however, is to get people the help the need, regardless of the situation.

"It's an attempt to help people deal with issues they're struggling with, so that they don't become so frustrated that they feel the only answer is violence," Ferrara says.

One of the most involved programs in PTI is the Counseling Center, located in 316 Dyer Hall on Main Campus. Since 2007, the center has dealt with almost 700 emergency situations — an increase of 130 percent over five years. Last year, the counselors spend more than 170 hours providing urgent care to students in distress.

"If you look at the field of behavioral sciences, many of the mental illnesses manifest themselves in late adolescence or early adulthood — that's our population [at UC]," Ferrara says. "So if we can get to people early in that process, then we can help them."